Belly dance 2019

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Okay, the babies are in the air. :clap:

It's not just that Tito can do this stuff, but that he makes it look so effortless.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
That was "A Thing" in Egypt earlier this year. No, make that "The Thing" in Egypt earlier this year. Believe it or not, that was appropriate.

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Perhaps my law enforcement family background is showing, but glorifying organized crime in any size, form, or description is never appropriate. This is not cute, it is not funny, and it is not clever, whether it was invented by Egyptians or the Atlanta Ballet Company. I will, however, grant that it is authentically in bad taste.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
That was "A Thing" in Egypt earlier this year. ...

(I was actually toying with the idea of doing a Halloween hafla performance to this song because that's the sort of place where it belongs outside of the context of a party where everybody wants to dance to it. It's a novelty, but it's also authentic. I get so tired of Halloween haflas where it's an endless evening of weird goth belly dancing.)

I'll be back with a few more thoughts later...
Thanks for the context. It’s nice to know that no country is immune from silly dance crazes.

That could make a good Halloween performance, I can see why you would want to.
 

Zorba

Moderator
Okay, the babies are in the air. :clap:

It's not just that Tito can do this stuff, but that he makes it look so effortless.
This does absolutely nothing for me. I know Tito can dance, but this ain't it. This comes under the category of "stupid male tricks", something I see all too often with male dancers - but never with Tito before this. But then again, I haven't seen all of his performances either.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Really? Guess I don't see enough male dancers to know what kind of tricks they're all up to. ;) I love the whole stick schtick, perhaps because I can manage to twirl an assaya and that's about it.
 

Tourbeau

Member
Perhaps my law enforcement family background is showing, but glorifying organized crime in any size, form, or description is never appropriate. This is not cute, it is not funny, and it is not clever, whether it was invented by Egyptians or the Atlanta Ballet Company. I will, however, grant that it is authentically in bad taste.
We would have also accepted the answer "Misappropriating specific iconography from movies like Coppola's "Godfather" saga, De Palma's "Scarface," and Scorsese's "GoodFellas" reinforces pernicious stereotypes about Italians, namely that they all are involved in or descended from people who were involved in organized crime."

That could make a good Halloween performance, I can see why you would want to.
Part of the problem (as has been demonstrated here) is that even experienced dancers who care about being culturally aware might not get the reference, much less beginners who are just starting to listen to ME music, and if you don't get it, the dancing looks confusingly vulgar and weird.

The other problem is that just because a song is fun to dance to socially, it doesn't guarantee it's good for a performance. I have the same problem with 99% of mahraganat and techno-shaabi. It's great for bopping around, but there's not enough to hang a meaningful performance on. "Mafia" has a stupidly catchy hook, but it's also very repetitive. Once you've done the gun move, what do you do for the rest of the song that isn't just generic modern Egyptian social dancing?

Besides, it probably isn't possible to get a performing slot at a Halloween hafla this late. Halloween and Christmas haflas fill up almost as soon as the previous one ends, because shows where there's no expectation to use ME music are the most popular ones where I live.
 

Tourbeau

Member
There is a lot of hair flinging though. A LOT. It mostly seems to be khaleegy influenced. I wonder how many even know that though?
Some of the hair work looks more Zaar-influenced than Khaleegi to me, and the Simona clip is Iraqi. Not to go too far off topic, but there are a lot of misconceptions about Khaleegi dancing. Much of the wild, aggressive hair whipping is more of a stylization associated with tribal subcultures in the region (Bedouins on the peninsula, Kawliya in Iraq, etc.), which doesn't mean it's wrong, just sometimes a bit out of context in mainstream Gulf dance. Also, with the gender politics of the Gulf, it is important to remember that proper Muslim ladies don't get out of control in public, so dancing with abandon is frowned upon, even though many parties are gender segregated and there are no men present. You don't embarrass your female relatives, and if you're single, you don't scare off your potential in-laws by going crazy on the dance floor. Obviously, there are multiple standards for what constitutes "going crazy" (rural/urban, old/young, un-/educated, rich/poor, ...), so YMMV, but in general, less is more. Better to err on the side of being a little too reserved than a maniac.

I also can't stand too much hair stuff. There's a local dancer (I won't link her videos) who constantly plays with her hair and flips it when she dances. When I watch her videos, sometimes I get so aggravated, I start yelling "Hair!" everytime she does it. You'd be unpleasantly surprised by how many times I can yell "Hair!" during a four-minute video. (About every 15 seconds...)
 

Tourbeau

Member
Last thoughts...

I guess you either like Sadie's style or you don't, but I don't know how much you can fault her for that video. Part of the problem with that clip is the construction of the drum solo itself. From the standpoint of musical composition, there are a lot of sequences that are not much more than drum riffs followed by rests over and over. You can't get much musicality out of that.

That was not my all-time favorite Tito performance, but it was impressive. I don't know how common that sort of showing off is among tahtib players (or bored professional male folkdancers backstage, for that matter), but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. A talented, charismatic performer can make almost anything work.

Unfortunately I think most of these videos are just the style now. There's a lot of Eastern European influence, a lot of big, aggressive dancing that appeals to foreign students and foreign audiences, and not a lot of subtle, nuanced musical interpretation of sophisticated compositions steeped in ME performing traditions. When the market contracts, Darwinism favors the showy, I suppose.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
Some of the hair work looks more Zaar-influenced than Khaleegi to me, and the Simona clip is Iraqi.
That would explain why her performance stood out to me among all the hair flinging; it was the only one that felt stylized. It's been a long time since I've watched any Zaar performances. I'll have to reacquaint myself with it. I also wouldn't mind seeing more of the Iraqi style. Is there a name for it?
 

Tourbeau

Member
I also wouldn't mind seeing more of the Iraqi style. Is there a name for it?
Simona has her video tagged as "Basrawi" (from the city of Basra/Basrah in SE Iraq). This is one of the areas where the Kawliya (also sometimes spelled with a Q in English) settled. The Kawliya were Domari people originally from India, with an experience somewhat parallel to the Roma Ghawazee in Egypt in that as an ethnic minority, they lived on the margins of society and sometimes built reputations as entertainers. There are Domari in other parts of Iraq and some intersection with the Kurds, but I don't know enough to go into more detail.

I've seen dancers online making the distinction between "Kawliya" as referring to the original Dom minority's music and dance and "Basrawi" being the indigenous Iraqis' version of those arts, but again, I personally couldn't begin to tease out the differences. I can say that about a decade or so ago, there was an explosion of interest in the Kawliya style that was driven by videos of Eastern European dancers wearing satin A-line gowns, doing enthusiastic hair whipping and bouncy, kicky, skipping steps to music that frequently has a distinctive rat-a-tat-tat drumming sound. I don't know how the Eastern Europeans got into it, but their YouTube clips seemed to be the entry point for many Western dancers, although IIRC, Amani Jabril, who is based in Atlanta, was over in the region studying Kawliya dance before then. (Amani Jabril wrote some articles about her experience for Gilded Serpent.) At one point, Mark Balahadia and Leila Molaei were doing something related to this on FB, too, but I don't know if it is still happening. Finally, there's some debate about whether the Eastern Europeans have altered Kawliya dance so much that their version has become its own new style, sort of like AmCab.

I'm a tiny bit more informed about the music, where a distinguishing feature is typically the use of an Iraqi drum called "zanbour" (which means "wasp" in Arabic) or sometimes "khishbah" (not sure of that translation--maybe something about "wood"--and there are a few other names for this drum that I don't see as often). Anyway, it's a narrow, tubular drum with a fish-skin head that sounds buzzy and high and hollow, so that when it's played fast, it almost sounds like a machine gun. Personally, it reminds me of the old Simmons electronic drums that were popular in the 80's, but it's an actual hand drum (unless it's a programmed routine in a synthesizer that has Arabic microtonal support and the Iraqi module installed, because that can happen, too).

Sometimes you will see music in this style called "Chobi," but as I understand it, not all Kawliya music is Chobi and not all Chobi music is Kawliya. Some Chobi music is intended for a family of indigenous Iraqi line dances similar to dabkat. Some Chobi stuff is associated with Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

It's all quite tangled up, and between ISIS regressing the progress in Iraq and the MED community contracting, research on this slowed down after the initial burst of interest. HTH...
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Last thoughts...

I guess you either like Sadie's style or you don't, but I don't know how much you can fault her for that video. Part of the problem with that clip is the construction of the drum solo itself. From the standpoint of musical composition, there are a lot of sequences that are not much more than drum riffs followed by rests over and over. You can't get much musicality out of that.
Very true about the drum solo itself, and a large part of the problem with a fair number of drum solos. The difference between playing for live dancers and learning a song to play for dancers in the quiet of one's own living room are substantial.

Several years ago, we were lucky enough to have a drummer who came and played for my class just for the experience and for an occasional dinner out with us after class. I gave him one of Raquy's drum dvds and he was well on his way to picking up some excellent ME drum chops when he decamped for a four year university some distance from here. It was as interesting to watch him learn what dancers needed for a varied performance as it was watching my students learn to perform to improvisational drum.
 

Tourbeau

Member
Very true about the drum solo itself, and a large part of the problem with a fair number of drum solos. The difference between playing for live dancers and learning a song to play for dancers in the quiet of one's own living room are substantial.

Several years ago, we were lucky enough to have a drummer who came and played for my class just for the experience and for an occasional dinner out with us after class. I gave him one of Raquy's drum dvds and he was well on his way to picking up some excellent ME drum chops when he decamped for a four year university some distance from here. It was as interesting to watch him learn what dancers needed for a varied performance as it was watching my students learn to perform to improvisational drum.
Yeah, the quality of live drumming varies greatly. Most amateur drummers (dance students or spouses/partners/friends of dancers who take up drumming) concentrate on memorizing rhythmic patterns, and don't get an opportunity to advance to the study of drum solo composition.

A good drum solo ebbs and flows. It has sequences of strong, staccato accents and longer runs of more continuous drumming with perhaps more subtle accents. It has bridges that transition between noticeably different families of rhythms. It is not simply 16 measures of maqsoum followed by 16 measures of ayoub, or endless groups of four riffs with the fourth one being slightly different. Those things can certainly be the building blocks of a good drum solo, but when drumming never progresses past an elementary level of understanding, you end up with a one-person drum circle, not a fully realized piece of music.

I'm not saying that drum solos have to be plotted out like symphonies. You can get pretty far with a plug-and-play modular approach, and being able to improvise is a necessity for a drummer, whether you're playing alone for a dancer or in a group with other musicians and instruments. You just don't string a bunch of rhythms together with a few fancy riffs and think you're on your way to being the next Hossam Ramzy.
 

Zorba

Moderator
We used to have "Uncle Mafufo" come and drum for a class I was in. The drummers I've encountered here in Florida thus far, aren't exactly in the same class!
 
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